Chronic Pain .... you have to keep moving to help relieve pain

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by JLH, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. JLH

    JLH New Member

    Chronic Pain: Exercise Can Bring Relief

    (This article was on the newsletter)

    Source: Mayo Clinic

    Exercise can be a great way to ease chronic pain. Consider the risks of inactivity and the benefits of movement.

    When you're in pain, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. But it may be more important than you think. Regular exercise is a versatile weapon in the fight against chronic pain.

    The risks of inactivity

    When you're inactive, your muscles — including your heart — lose strength and work less efficiently. Your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes increases. Inactivity can increase fatigue, stress and anxiety as well.

    "Years ago, people who were in pain were told to rest," says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist and co-director of the Sports Medicine Center at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. "But now we know the exact opposite is true. When you rest, you become deconditioned — which may actually contribute to chronic pain."

    The benefits of movement

    As tough as it may be to start an exercise program, your body will thank you. Are you skeptical? Consider the facts. Exercise can:

    Prompt your body to release endorphins. These chemicals block pain signals from reaching your brain. Endorphins also help alleviate anxiety and depression — conditions that can make chronic pain more difficult to control.

    "Endorphins are the body's natural pain relievers," Dr. Laskowski says. "Endorphins have the potential to provide the pain-relieving power of strong pain medications, such as morphine."

    Help you build strength. The stronger your muscles, the more force and load you'll take off your bones and cartilage — and the more relief you'll feel.

    Increase your flexibility. Joints that can move through their full range of motion are less likely to be plagued with aches and pains. Improve your sleep quality. Regular exercise can lower your stress hormones, resulting in better sleep.

    Boost your energy level. Think huffing and puffing through a workout will leave you wiped out? Not likely. Regular exercise can actually give you more energy to cope with chronic pain.

    Help you maintain a healthy weight. Exercise burns calories, which can help you drop excess pounds. This will reduce stress on your joints — another way to improve chronic pain.

    Enhance your mood. Exercise improves blood and oxygen flow to your muscles and contributes to an overall sense of well-being. Looking and feeling better can improve your confidence and self-image as well.

    Protect your heart and blood vessels. Exercise decreases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

    Getting started

    Consult your doctor for help designing an exercise program that meets your specific needs. Your doctor will likely recommend various stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercises. Swimming, biking and walking are often good choices. Exercises that help you relax — such as meditation and yoga — may be helpful, too.

    It's natural to be worried about hurting yourself or making your pain worse. But with your doctor's reassurance and guidance, you can safely exercise with the knowledge that your pain isn't serving a useful protective purpose. Remember, regular exercise actually eases chronic pain for many people.

    Staying on track

    Even if you recognize the benefits of exercise, staying motivated can be a challenge.

    "Remember to start slowly," Dr. Laskowski says. "Don't rush into a strenuous workout regimen before your body is ready. Consistency is more important than intensity — especially if you have severe pain."

    It's also helpful to build your exercise program around activities you enjoy. Exercise with a friend or join a class at a local fitness center. As your energy increases and your mood improves, you may actually look forward to exercising.

    ** end **

    The only form of exercise that I have been able to tolerate, due to my numerous back problems, is warm water exerices. I have taken the arthritis warm water aerobics classes many times and they were really easy on my muscles and joints.

    I also do bends and stretches while sitting in a chair. That's about my limit!

  2. fivesue

    fivesue New Member


    That was an interesting article, and I do agree somewhat, but it's not the panacea that he assumes it is. I have begun some exercising, but I must take my pain pill before I do it or I couldn't. Just the way it is with my back, my legs, my arms. But, I can do it and I do feel better even if it's just mentally better knowing I've done what everyone says should work.

    If we had a warm water pool here, I might go, but we don't. I have been doing a very low-impact program with a tape, and tomorrow I am going to the health club my husband joined (me, too) for their light and easy session. We'll see. It is a good time for me, so that's in its favor.

    But, without pain meds, I'd be way less able to do what I can with. Just a fact.

    Thanks for posting this.

  3. JLH

    JLH New Member

    No, I don't know very many people (who are sick like us!) who enjoy exercising!! LOL

    I do like the water aerobics, but I haven't been able to do it for a while due to not having transportation to the nearest facility, which is a 40 min. drive (one way).

    One of my doctors tells me that just walking would be fine, but I live in the country on a busy state route with no sidewalks - and I live half way up the road which is about 10 miles long. So, I don't have anyplace to walk!

    I think if I did an actual exercise routine, or workout, daily that I would also have to take a pain pill before or after it!

    Right now, for me, it is important that I just get up and move around the house--doing simple household chores, to keep my body moving. I have a tremendous amount of arthritis all over my body, as well as fibro and systemic lupus. I also have a very painful pinched nerve in my back which goes into spasms if I do too much. I am also overweight, so doing exercises should benefit me; however, with all my health problems, I am limited on what I can do. I also have many heart problems and diabetes, just to mention a couple.
  4. Beadlady

    Beadlady Member

    5 minutes a day around my yard for a week and each week I increased my time by 5 minutes. Now I walk at least 15-20 minutes a day around my neighborhood while walking my dog. My dog also has arthritis and some nights he can't go too far but other nights we walk a mile.

    I definately feel better on this schedule. And I now look forward to this special time with my pooch each day.

    [This Message was Edited on 01/19/2006]
    [This Message was Edited on 01/19/2006]
  5. fivesue

    fivesue New Member

    You have more health issues than I do, so I can certainly understand needing to just keep moving however. The idea of beginning slowly like the lady just posted is good.

    I haven't been doing a routine for very long; I changed my diet and have had far more energy than I did before. I am eating more protein (not beef) and more fiber and fruits/veggies...seems to be helping me as I was a carbo junkie (still am!) before.

    Today I will go to the gym to see about the low-impact aerobic class. Just will do what I can. I'll never do an hour.

    Best wished for becoming more active at the right pace. Take care of yourself as it seems you have a lot on your health issue plate.

  6. jbennett2

    jbennett2 New Member

    I have always been a believer in the "use it or lose it" theory. I walk every day, no matter how much I hurt. Twice a week I go to a warm salt-water pool and do Ai Chi. It is a very relaxing, gentle form of exercise that almost anyone can do. In fact, most of the people in the class I have do have some kind of past injury or hip or knee replacement. I always feel sooooo good when I come out of that class.
  7. JLH

    JLH New Member

    I certainly hope that I can get back to the pool therapy this spring. I have got to find something to help my back pain - from the pinched nerve.
  8. JLH

    JLH New Member

    but it's my mouth .... and I think those are my muscles which DON'T NEED exercising!!!! LOL
  9. ilovecats94

    ilovecats94 New Member

    I have tried this and I used to exercise a lot prior to FMS. I have tried to just walk, but my back cramps on me and I have to sit and rest. I have thought it was my weight, but I have lost 15 pounds and there is no difference.

    I hate the pool and water. I am too tired most days to even deal with something like that.

    I do some stretches on my lower body. Sometimes even that will put me into a flare around my upper back and neck/shoulders.

    Hugs to you,
  10. sunflowergirl

    sunflowergirl Well-Known Member

    and it's been 5 times now that I've gone. I'm taking it slowly, not using weights like the others, and have had to take some ibuprofen when I come home......BUT......

    I can honestly say it seems to be helping me. I walk about 2 miles a day but I'm using muscles that I don't use in walking.

  11. joanng

    joanng New Member

    it's a vicious cycle.....I take pain meds which help me get out the door..I joined a gym that has yoga classes. I feel so good after this class and even into the next day. I took their dance class the other night and tonight it was the "Body Combat" class. I feel a lot better but I'm praying I don't start with a flare-up. My biggest fear is that this disease will immoblize me and I won't be able to more but sometimes the pain is so severe, I can't move.

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